Independent Writing from an Independent Mind

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I just finished Arika Okrent’s In the Land of Invented Languages


In the Land of Invented Languages

In the Land of Invented Languages


Since I have been somewhat of an esperantist since the age of fourteen, have studied Ido and Blissymbolics in a cursory fashion and would love to study Volapük as well someday, I was very attracted to this book the moment I heard it was being published.

Arika Okrent, a doctor (Ph.D.) of Linguistics, has done a thorough job at “classifying” the invented languages throughout the years and giving a compelling background of the more important and interesting conlangs (constructed languages in general like Loglan or Lojban), auxlangs (auxiliary languages like Esperanto, Ido, Interlingua or Volapük) and artlangs (artificial languages such as Klingon or J.R.R. Tolkien’s Quenya language his elves spoke). Arika did the hard yards during her research in that she learned Esperanto and Klingon at least to basic level, studied Láadan and Lojban and done fieldwork into their speakers’ communities. She attended several gatherings of Esperantists, Klingon speakers (and wannabes) as well as Logbanists and presented thoughtful observations about her experiences. I found the distinct cultures growing up in Esperantujo (Esperanto Land) and in the “Klingon community” that Okrent described to be truly fascinating, especially when taking into account that Esperanto is spoken for altruistic reasons whereas people who learn Klingon do it as a high form of intellectual hobby, an impassioned this language for language’s sake mantra. If you are a language geek like me you will get lost in this book.

I promise!



5 responses to “I just finished Arika Okrent’s In the Land of Invented Languages

  1. Bill Chapman April 13, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    You’re right that Esperanto is learned for altruistic reasons, but there are some less noble motives too. Esperanto enriches the life of the traveller. I’ve used it in some fifteen countries.

  2. Brian Barker April 13, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Who would sensibly suggest Klingon as the future international language, instead of Esperanto!!

    PLEASE GET REAL. The international language problem needs a solution and the linguistic imperialism of English does not help either 😦


  3. Hoss April 13, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Gary, please don’t mind Brian’s rant above — apparently he forgot to actually read your post before commenting. As Okrent explains in her book, not all Esperantists are kooks. It only seems that way, sometimes, due to the antics of a few misguided “verdaj papoj”…

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